Revival

Clarity comes at the strangest of times.

My body was jostling vigorously in the back of a 4-wheel drive Landcruiser barreling through the Sea of Sand at the base of Mount Bromo, an active volcano in East Java, at 2 o’clock in the morning. In true local style, our driver was using the moon to track our direction towards a viewpoint where my travel companions and I would witness one of Indonesia’s most iconic sunrise vistas.

As I was bouncing up and down with nothing to hold onto but my excitement, my eyes surveyed the view outside. Although it was night, the orange-red light cast from the oversized moon crept onto the mountainous ridge and revealed the crevasses that snaked from top to bottom. Beauty.

I turned to my travel mates only to see their eyes closed in an attempt to sleep. “Open your eyes!” I wanted to exclaim. How could one want to shut themselves off at this very moment?

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Full Circle

My series of one-way flights has ended. After a year-round summer, I am back to winter on the East Coast of the United States.

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The Brae Way

One hour after I landed at Melbourne Tullamarine Airport, I arrived in the city only to depart straightaway, from Southern Cross Train Station, and arrived in Birregurra two hours later.

I wheeled my belongings behind me through a shack of a train station to the parking lot—a thin layer of gravel spread over dirt. I surveyed my surroundings and dry farmland spread before me for miles, with all the hay bundles and cows that come with it. I didn’t see people, cars or buildings. I was in the middle of nowhere.

Two guys who alighted the same train as me were chatting with each other and waiting for someone to pick them up. One of them asked, “Are you waiting for Damien [the sous chef]?” “Yes,” I replied. “Yeah, I figured,” he responded. “No one comes out here unless they’re staging at Brae.”

Welcome to the Brae way.

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Scenes of Thailand

Motherland

Taiwan is my “what if” country.

What if my parents had never immigrated to the United States? What if I had been born and raised in Taiwan? What would my life be like? Would I have the same personality, same career, same way of life? These questions re-surface every five years or so, every time I visit and reconnect with family.

But this trip felt different. This time, I wasn’t weighing Taiwan against myself, but I was comparing it to the rest of the world through an alternate lens—its food and dining culture—just like every other country before it.

How did it fare?

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